Stephanie Syjuco: Vanishing Point (Overlay)
Stephanie Syjuco’s three-part installation at the BMA examines how images construct and fortify white supremacy and exclusionary narratives of history and citizenship.
Installed outside of the Museum, To the Person Sitting in Darkness (2019) reinterprets the U.S. flag based on Mark Twain’s 1901 essay for the North American Review that condemned efforts by Western nations to lay claim to the non-Western world. Twain remarked, “And as for a flag for the Philippine Province,… [w]e can just have our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and crossbones.” Syjuco has constructed the flag on a grand scale exactly as Twain described it.
For a new work developed especially for the BMA, titled Vanishing Point (2021), Syjuco will drape five historically charged 19th-century objects from the Museum’s collection in a semi-sheer pixelated cloth. The draping works to deny the power of display previously afforded to these objects, which are identified only as Founding Father, Collaborator, Confederate, Sympathizer, and Secessionist.
For the third installation, Rogue States (2018), the artist has recreated a group of fictional flags drawn from film and television programs that depicted countries outside of the U.S. and Western Europe as terrorist, backward, or unstable. The flags are hung vertically from the ceiling in a grid, as a United Nations-style convention of collective anxiety.
Syjuco, born in 1974 in Manila, Philippines, lives and works in Oakland, California.
Curated by Jessica Bell Brown, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, and Leila Grothe, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art.
The exhibition is supported by the Clair Zamoiski Segal and Thomas H. Segal Contemporary Art Endowment Fund.
Additional support from the Estate of Margaret Hammond Cooke.